In Brene Brown’s extraordinary book Braving the Wilderness, she has a chapter called “Speak truth to bullshit. Be civil.” She speaks about truth in our interactions with other people and points to what is happening inside. Shame can be triggered and take over. I like to look at this dynamic when we take it back a step. This principle also applies to our relationship with ourselves. Shaming shuts us down. Silence has a price in integrity.
Speaking truth is complicated in part because of our defense mechanism of denial. We vigorously suppress what we cannot afford to see. This is driven by our primitive brain and fear. We have beliefs about our own unworthiness. Having our parents ignore or hurt us is devastating to a child. The human need for connection is intensely strong, because ostracizing or shunning means death.
As we heal, we begin to see the high cost of social isolation and the dysfunction in some of our relationships. We begin to see truth. We have more clarity. And taking a deep breath, we stand our ground and begin to speak the truth.
This is where it gets interesting! We will rarely be met with someone who is open to hearing our truth, and be willing to see clearly, especially if it would appear to threaten their own security or interests. The long game for everyone is a culture and society where we are all heard and protected and included and where we can speak truth and be respected for that.
This is not going to happen the first time we speak.This is risky! To take care of ourselves, we assess each situation in a very practical, strategic manner. We step out into vulnerability and authenticity and we step back into protection and we gradually widen our window of tolerance.
We can’t truly bullshit ourselves. We know truth in our gut. What we do and don’t do. We know when we are in integrity and when we betray ourselves. Each time that we speak our truth, hold our boundaries, are respectful and civil and strong, we know that too. We are in alignment. We are connected with our true self.
“To know you can navigate the wilderness on your own – to know that you can stay true to your beliefs, trust yourself, and survive it – that is true belonging.” Brene Brown
This practice is one of many ways we can get to know ourselves, relax and deeply rest.